Unfortunately, many men deal with acne. While it can be difficult to manage, finding the right face wash is an essential first step in creating a skincare routine that effectively treats and prevents breakouts. Once you’ve added your go-to breakout-busting cleanser to your routine, you can confidently work towards achieving and maintaining a clean and healthy complexion.
There are quite a few things you need to consider when picking out the best face wash for you, so we’ve created a helpful guide. Below, you’ll find some useful tips for picking out and using a cleanser, as well as our recommendations for the best acne face washes for men.
What to Look for in an Acne Face Wash
First and foremost, you’ll need a cleanser that effectively cleanses away dirt, excess oil, and impurities. Not only will this get rid of any potentially pore-clogging debris, but it will also prepare your skin for any acne treatments you may be using. The active ingredients in these treatments will be better able to penetrate skin that is thoroughly cleansed. This means they will work better, and you’ll see visible results faster.
You’ll want to keep an eye out for formulas featuring ingredients known to minimize and prevent acne. Cleansers that are formulated with blemish-reducing ingredients can help speed up the acne healing process. They’ll also work to keep your pores clear so that you minimize the risk of developing future breakouts. Some of the most effective ingredients that are known to battle breakouts include salicylic acid, tea tree oil, volcanic ash, clay, charcoal, sulfur, and benzoyl peroxide.
While you’ll want ingredients that help tackle breakouts, you’ll also want a cleanser that contains ingredients that support the skin’s overall health. Soothing ingredients will help calm inflammation related to acne and minimize redness while hydrating ingredients will balance the skin’s moisture levels and counteract any drying effects of more aggressive acne-fighting additives. Keep an eye out for aloe vera, green tea, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and non-comedogenic plant oils (such as pomegranate seed oil, argan oil, or sunflower seed oil).
Lastly, you will want to find a face wash that is suitable for your skin type. For example, men with dry or sensitive skin will likely find that more aggressive acne-fighting ingredients—like benzoyl peroxide or high concentrations of salicylic acid—are too harsh for their skin. Men with these skin types should look for a cleanser that helps battle acne without causing additional dryness or irritation—you’ll find some great recommendations below.
How Often Should You Use an Acne Face Wash?
Everyone should wash their face at least once a day in the evening, though some people (most commonly those with oilier skin) will wash their face in the morning as well. That said, you might not choose to wash your skin with a specifically targeted acne face wash every time you wash your face, and here’s why.
How frequently you use an acne-fighting face wash largely depends on the specific product you’ve chosen, as well as your skin’s unique needs. For some people, using an acne face wash with a high concentration of active ingredients on a daily or twice-daily basis may cause irritation or dryness. If you find this to be the case, consider using the more aggressive face wash every other day and alternating with a milder daily face wash.
On the other hand, some breakout-busting face washes (including many of the options mentioned below) are gentler on the skin. These types of face washes can be used once or twice a day without causing any negative side effects.
The Best Acne Face Washes for Men
Blu Atlas crafts high-performance men’s skincare products that are powered by science-backed natural ingredients. The company’s highly-rated, all-natural Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser—which is suitable for all skin types, and gentle enough for daily use. It effectively cleanses away excess oil, dirt, impurities, and pore-clogging debris while balancing the skin’s pH levels.
One of the star ingredients in this daily cleanser is volcanic ash. These super-fine particles work to gently exfoliate and clarify the skin. They are highly absorbent and are able to remove impurities, oil, and other debris from the face, which helps refine pores while promoting a clearer complexion. This cleanser also contains lactobacillus ferment filtrate, a probiotic ingredient that soothes inflamed, irritated skin while also improving its ability to protect itself against environmental aggressors.
In addition to these highly effective ingredients, the Volcanic Ash Face Cleanser contains pomegranate seed oil, which is non-comedogenic (meaning it doesn’t clog pores). This oil is packed with fatty acids and vitamin C and helps nourish and strengthen the skin. Glycerin works alongside this oil to hydrate without clogging the pores, ensuring the skin’s moisture levels are balanced.
This fully natural cleanser is dermatologically tested, so you can feel safe using it in your acne-fighting skin care routine. It is also vegan and made without sulfates, synthetic fragrances, parabens, or phthalates.
2. Perricone MD Acne Relief Gentle and Soothing Cleanser
This exfoliating daily cleanser from Perricone MD is formulated to thoroughly cleanse the skin without causing any irritation or dryness. It also contains ingredients that support the skin’s microbiome, which helps the skin better defend itself against a wide variety of skin issues. Additional ingredients soothe inflammation related to acne, promoting a stronger and more comfortable complexion.
The fragrance-free Acne Relief Gentle and Soothing Cleanser is formulated with both physical and chemical exfoliants. Ultra-fine sugar (sucrose) works as a mild physical exfoliant, unclogging pores and removing debris on the surface of the skin. It also encourages the growth of good bacteria, which supports a healthy skin microbiome. In addition to the sucrose, this gentle gel cleanser contains a 2% concentration of the acne-fighting ingredient salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid (or BHA). Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble chemical exfoliant that works deep in the pores to decongest and remove excess oil, helping to support a clearer complexion.
This formula also features olive oil-derived squalane, a substance that is found naturally in the human body. Lightweight and non-comedogenic squalane deeply hydrates without feeling heavy on the skin or contributing to breakouts.
3. Peace Out Skincare Blemish Balm Cleanser
This daily cleanser from clean beauty brand Peace Out Skincare is expertly formulated for people with oily and acne-prone skin. The gentle formula blends physical and chemical exfoliators with other powerful ingredients to wash away impurities, unclog and refine pores, smooth texture, and support the skin’s overall health, without leaving it feeling tight or dry. It also preps your skin so that it is better able to absorb any acne-fighting products you use in your routine.
The Blemish Balm Cleanser features the BHA salicylic acid, which gently exfoliates to decongest and refine the appearance of pores. In order to add some extra exfoliating power, this cleansing balm features biodegradable cellulose, which gently buffs the skin to smooth and soften.
This formula also contains niacinamide, a B vitamin that evens the complexion, targets large pores, calms the skin, and helps control the production of oil. Hyaluronic acid—a humectant—attracts moisture to the skin and locks it in, while ceramides support the skin’s barrier so that it can better retain moisture and defend itself against aggressors. An amino acid complex also works to enrich and protect the skin. The Blemish Balm Cleanser is made without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances, and is also vegan and cruelty-free.
4. Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment
The Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment is a highly effective breakout-busting face wash. While a clinical strength concentration of sulfur works to fight acne, a blend of soothing and nourishing ingredients calm the complexion and support the skin’s overall health. This creamy, whipped cleanser effectively washes the skin without over drying or causing any irritation.
This cleanser contains a 3% concentration of sulfur, a powerful ingredient that diminishes current breakouts while preventing new blemishes from forming. This strength is ideal, as it is incredibly effective, yet not likely to cause irritation. As the sulfur gets to work on acne, a botanical complex of honey and rice bran extracts soothe, nourish, and hydrate the skin. Natural oat extract also helps absorb and balance sebum levels. The EradiKate Daily Cleanser Acne Treatment is made without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, or mineral oil, and is also cruelty-free.
5. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash
Drugstore skincare brand La Roche-Posay has a wide range of high-performance face washes, including the Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash. This gel cleanser gently exfoliates the skin and battles blackheads, whiteheads, and other forms of acne while washing away impurities. It’s particularly suitable for men with acne-prone, oily skin, and has been clinically proven to minimize excess oil by 47%.
The La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Acne Face Wash contains a 2% concentration of salicylic acid, the highly-effective acne-fighting chemical exfoliant. While clearing acne, it also helps to whisk away excess oil for a less shiny complexion. Additionally, this formula contains lipo-hydroxy acid, a gentle derivative of salicylic acid that smooths the surface of the skin while helping to battle breakouts. Glycerin works alongside these chemical exfoliants to draw moisture to the skin and lock it in, leaving the skin feeling hydrated and supple.
This cleanser is dermatologist and allergy tested and is also non-comedogenic. It is formulated without fragrances, oil, or parabens.
6. EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser
If you have drier or more sensitive skin, you’ll want to take a gentle approach to battling acne. This Foaming Facial Cleanser from EltaMD is super gentle on the skin, but still thoroughly removes pollutants, impurities, and other pore-clogging debris. It also contains mild yet effective ingredients that help minimize breakouts and support the skin’s overall health. The pH-balanced formula is oil-free, sulfate-free, and paraben-free, and is suitable for all skin types.
The key ingredient is this gentle foaming cleanser is bromelain, a mix of enzymes derived from pineapples. Bromelain has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, so it’s excellent for treating acne-prone skin. It also gently exfoliates the face, loosening dead skin cells and other debris that may clog the pores. Bromelain works the cleanser into a gentle foam that leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. The EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser also contains apple amino acids, which join the bromelain in breaking up debris while also hydrating the skin.
7. Bioré Charcoal Acne Daily Cleanser
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly face wash for oily, acne-prone skin, you’ll want to check out this affordable daily cleanser from Bioré. The dermatologist-tested Charcoal Acne Daily Cleanser deeply penetrates the pores and cleanses the skin, absorbing excess oil and fighting breakouts.
This vegan and cruelty-free cleanser contains charcoal, which draws out impurities and excess oil from the skin, resulting in a clarified and refreshed complexion. At the same time, salicylic acid dives deep into the pores to break up debris and dead skin cells, further working to battle current breakouts while preventing new blemishes from forming. This powerful formula is oil-free, and has been proven to clear acne in just two days.
8. SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel
This exfoliating gel cleanser from SkinCeuticals is an excellent choice for men with oily or combination skin looking to not only fight breakouts, but also smooth skin texture, fight signs of aging, and brighten the overall complexion. The SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel blends together different chemical exfoliants to minimize acne and promote a more youthful complexion. It is made without parabens, soaps, fragrances, dyes, or alcohol.
As the name suggests, this cleanser contains lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA), which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This exfoliant decongests the pores while refining the skin’s texture. Salicylic acid works with the LHA to unclog and refine the pores, helping to keep acne at bay. It also whisks away excess oil, which prevents the skin from getting overly shiny.
In addition to these exfoliants, this cleanser also contains glycolic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid (or AHA). This chemical exfoliant works on the surface of the skin, clearing away dead skin cells and promoting skin cell turnover to achieve a smoother, more even, and younger looking complexion. It also helps improve the skin’s hydration levels, ensuring it doesn’t get dried out during the cleansing and exfoliating process.
9. PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash 10% Maximum Strength
If you really want to bring out the big guns, consider trying the budget-friendly PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash, which contains the highest concentration of benzoyl peroxide available over-the-counter. This maximum strength foaming face wash powerfully battles acne while washing away pore-clogging debris and bacteria.
Benzoyl peroxide is a science-backed ingredient that is proven to effectively tackle breakouts. It has antibacterial properties, and kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin while also unclogging pores. This improves the skin’s ability to shed dead skin cells, which minimizes the risk of pores becoming clogged again. If you’re battling breakouts on your back or body, you can also use this multi-tasking cleanser as a body wash.
While incredibly effective, this face wash is powerful and may cause some dryness. If you choose to add it to your routine, start with using it every other day, and then moving on to daily use after a couple of weeks if it seems appropriate.
10. Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam
Skincare company Sebamed is known for producing high-performance formulas that address a variety of skin concerns, including acne. The company’s Clear Face Cleansing Foam is formulated for oily, acneic skin. The refreshing foam deeply clarifies and removes excess oil, but is gentle on the skin and doesn’t cause any dryness or irritation, so it’s great for daily use. It also features ingredients that soothe, hydrate, and support the skin so that it is left feeling comfortable, calm, and refreshed—and not red and shiny.
The Clear Face Cleansing Foam features a coconut oil-based surfactant called Montaline C40, an antibacterial ingredient that helps battle acne for a clearer complexion. While this surfactant treats and prevents breakouts, vitamin B5 (AKA panthenol) calms irritation, while also improving the skin’s ability to retain moisture. This cleanser is pH balanced, which ensures it supports (and doesn’t disrupt) the skin’s barrier function while cleansing.
11. First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay
Clean skincare brand First Aid Beauty specializes in gentle yet effective formulas that are safe for easily irritated skin. First Aid Beauty formulas are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial fragrance and dyes, and other ingredients that may harm or irritate the skin. For those with acne-prone skin, one of the company’s best products is the Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay, which detoxifies the pores, draws out impurities, and supports the skin’s overall health for a clear and healthy complexion.
One of the star ingredients in this vegan and cruelty-free daily cleanser is red clay, which is responsible for the formula’s bright red color. This clay absorbs excess oil and impurities on the skin and whisks them away to prevent breakouts. Another key acne-fighting ingredient is antibacterial rosemary leaf oil, which fights acne-causing bacteria on the skin.
As these ingredients cleanse away skin impurities and fight acne, a variety of other powerful ingredients work to hydrate, calm, and protect the skin. Licorice root extract, panthenol (vitamin B5), allantoin, and glycerin work together to moisturize, improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture, and soothe irritation. These ensure the skin is left feeling supple and ultra-comfortable. The Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser also contains the company’s proprietary FAB Antioxidant Booster. This booster contains a blend of antioxidant-rich ingredients that protect the skin against damaging environmental aggressors.
12. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
If you’re looking for a simple yet incredibly effective daily cleanser that will cleanse away pore-clogging debris, try the Foaming Facial Cleanser from drugstore skin care brand CeraVe, which is specifically made for normal, combination, and oily skin types. This foaming cleanser thoroughly cleanses the skin while supporting its barrier, and won’t leave the face feeling tight or dry. While it doesn’t contain a high concentration of acne-fighting active ingredients, the non-comedogenic formula is great for anyone in need of a gentle cleanser that can be used on a daily basis.
This affordable, fragrance-free cleanser features niacinamide, a multi-tasking B vitamin that calms the skin, refines large pores, controls sebum production, and evens out the skin tone. The formula also contains three essential ceramides that strengthen the skin’s barrier so that it is able to better defend itself against environmental aggressors. These ceramides also lock in moisture and improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
Finally, this lightweight cleanser contains hyaluronic acid, a humectant. Hyaluronic acid attracts moisture to the skin and locks it in, but doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. It leaves the complexion looking and feeling supple and hydrated, rather than greasy.
13. Paula’s Choice Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser
Paula’s Choice has a great selection of acne-fighting skin care products, including the highly-rated Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser, which takes a gentler approach to fighting acne. This non-irritating gel cleanser removes excess oil and debris without drying out the skin or leaving behind any residue. The refreshing formula is suitable for daily use.
This fragrance-free cleanser contains a super mild 0.5% concentration of salicylic acid. This chemical exfoliant gently breaks down and whisks away dead skin cells, sebum, and other debris that is clogging the pores, helping to decongest and refine the appearance of large pores. While salicylic acid can cause irritation or dryness in higher concentrations, many will find that this low concentration is suitable for daily use. As the salicylic acid targets congestion, ingredients like glycerin, arginine, and panthenol help moisturize, soften, and soothe the skin, so that it is left feeling hydrated and calm after cleansing. starts here.